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Today I had a great journey into the past. I’ve installed Microsoft Windows XP from scratch in a virtual machine. But I only did it for one reason – to have a desktop running Windows XP for my first Mirage Client installation and centralization. The initial installation of Windows XP was done very quickly but I’ve also wanted to install all available patches for SP3 so it took quite a while. After a reboot I had a nice and fresh XP installation. A great start for the next step in my Mirage home lab series here on That’s my View. If you haven’t seen the other articles before please go through them first.
- VMware Mirage Series Part 1 – My Mirage home lab
- VMware Mirage Series Part 2 – Server installation and first console login
- VMware Mirage Series Part 3 – Console overview
Can you remember this?
I’m sure you can and maybe your company is still on Windows XP as about 40-45% of companies in the world. But as you know Windows XP support is ending in April 2014 which is a good reason to migrate your desktops soon because Microsoft but also 3rd party software vendors won’t support the old Windows platform anymore.
Windows Migration and Hardware Migration are two of the use cases of VMware Mirage. There is probably no easier way of migrating from one OS to the OS or from one hardware platform to another. If you want to learn more about the migration use case in general you can check this whitepaper or read more about a reference story VMware did with ADAC, Europes largest automobile insurance association.
Enough marketing, no let’s dive into the Mirage Client installation piece.
As already mentioned in another article Mirage is a Client/Server application which can centralize the data of an endpoint and rollout new operating systems and applications in form of layers. To be able to do that you need the Mirage Management Server and Mirage Server I’ve installed last time and the Mirage Client which runs on the endpoint. The installation of the client application is quite easy.
Get the installation package in 32-Bit or 64-Bit (there are two MSI files) and then start the installer. If you’ve the .NEt Framework 3.5 not installed on the Windows XP, the installer will immediately stop at the first dialog. Install the framework and you’ll be fine. After accepting the license agreement you’re asked for a Mirage Server location. Enter the FQDN or IP address of the server into the text box and select the checkbox for an SSL connection if you’ve configured your server with SSL before.
As I’ve not configured SSL I just clicked Next which brought me to last step of the wizard. Just click Install and the wizard will finish, starting the Mirage Client installation. That’s it! In the task bar you’ll find the Mirage icon. Now I’ll give you a quick overview of the client’s functionality.
As you can see there are only a few options in the Mirage Client task bar app. Mainly the fronted helps the user to see if the Mirage client is working or idling. The user can check this clicking on Show Status. The other options help to create log files and the user can snooze the complete client operations for 15 minutes, 2 hours or 4 hours. But this doesn’t mean that the client does affect the user that much so he needs to snooze it. The Mirage Client is designed to only work in the background not affecting the user experience. But let’s go back to the Status windows quickly. Her’s a screenshot.
The Mirage Client is connected to the server but the status is Pending Assignment what means that the Mirage Administrator needs to activate this client first using the Mirage Management Console. Going back into the Mirage Management Console you can see the pending devices.
Right clicking on Centralize Endpoint you can start the wizard which leads you through the activation and first centralization of the Mirage Client. It’s just a 4-step wizard which asks for a few configuration parameters.
- The upload policy
- The base layer to configure
- The default volume where the client is being stored
What does that mean? The upload policy can be configured in the Management Console but I left it with the defaults. The policy is a rule which enabled you to control what type of data is centralized and which not. i.e. you could control that MP3 or video files are not going to be synchronized into the datacenter. The next option is the base layer configuration. The base layer is the first layer of a CVD which includes the operating system and the core applications. In my home lab I first wanted to just centralize desktop without assigning a base layer as I haven’t installed my reference machine with Windows 7 yet. I’ll do that later! Last step is the storage volume to store the CVD on. My server has only one volumes so this was a no-brainer.
After finishing the wizard you can see the client being transferred from the pending devices to the assigned devices node.
In that screenshot you can also see that the upload is initializing at the moment. This means that the Mirage Client is now kicking in. On that side you can see this:
After a while, depending on your network speed the whole desktop is available in the data center as a CVD. Quite easy! In my example the Windows XP installation had a total size of 2.3 GB which is not that much but there was only the plain operating system installed in my desktop. One of the most important functions of Mirage is the network optimization and the file and block based de-duplication. That means that if you’ve centralized your first Windows desktop, next time a client is being centralized, the server checks which part of the data is already available on the Mirage Server volumes and then only synchronizes the delta. Think about migrating a whole branch with 50 desktops. The network traffic will be reduced loads.
But centralizing the endpoint is only the first step. In my next article I’m going to setup the reference machine with a Windows 7 operating system and then create the base layer with it. Assigning this base layer to my Windows XP desktop means migrating it from one OS to the other. Mirage offers a few wizards which will handle all steps of the migration.
I hope this article has given you a great overview of the Client Installation and first centralization. If you have any questions please just comment on this article and I’ll come back to you as soon as possible.
The French blog (english language) www.vladan.fr has published a cool three article series about VMware Mirage. Learn how to install and setup Mirage and in the last article see how to migrate a Windows XP desktop to Windows 7.